It was one of those injuries that was described as a “freak accident” by local news media. But as is often the case in such matters, such a description shouldn’t be construed to mean it wasn’t preventable.
An auto mechanic in California was retained in 2011 by an auto towing company and its owner to ascertain why a vehicle owned by the company wouldn’t start. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, the towing company had disconnected the transmission shift linkage in order to tow the vehicle to the company’s property. After the vehicle was towed, the driver failed to reconnect the shift linkage. The plaintiff made sure the vehicle was in “park,” and then he went underneath to determine what was wrong with the vehicle. As soon as he started testing the electrical connection to the starter, the vehicle ran him over and dragged him through the parking lot. His spine was crushed.
The plaintiff later reached a settlement with the towing company and its owner for the insurance policy limit of $1 million. That settlement released all former defendants from liability. The settlement also released “affiliates” of the defendant. About three months after that settlement was finalized, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the property owner, from which the towing company had leased land. The property owner operated a used car dealership on the site.